Kenny Haltiwanger (left) and Miranda Smith (right) look at books Tuesday in the newly opened Waldo Branch Library in Waldo, Florida. “Everything about it is nice,” Haltiwanger said. (WUFT News/Aaron Ritter)

Waldo Celebrates Grand Opening of New Library


After two decades, the city of Waldo welcomed locals into a new library with a cool blast of air conditioning and the smell of fresh paint on a scorching summer day.

Over 250 people attended on Saturday the grand opening of the new Waldo Branch library at 15150 NE U.S. Highway 301. The new building replaced the town’s 23-year-old library, said Kerry Dowd, the Waldo branch manager.

“I’m pinching myself,” Dowd said. “Seeing these things come to life. It’s magical.”

Waldo’s former library served the community for 23 years before the city purchased and converted a former Dollar General store into the new Waldo Branch Library for Alachua County.

The new library is five-times larger than its predecessor, has complimentary wireless internet and 17 computers, 13 more than before.

The building, a former Dollar General store, was purchased by the Alachua County Library District for $325,000 to use for storage five years ago. The district spent an additional $814,000 upgrading the facility.

Nestled in downtown Waldo, the 8,100 square foot library was renovated to provide a nook for any patron who walks through its glass doors, said Rachel Cook, Alachua County Library District spokeswoman. Three-thousand square feet will still be used for storage, but the library will still be five times the size of the previous location.

Flanking the library’s common room are two study rooms, a quiet reading room and a dedicated arts and crafts space.

“It really allows for each segment of the population to have their own space while also appreciating community programming,” Cook said.

Jishnudas Fitch, senior library specialist, organizes books Tuesday at the Waldo Branch library in Waldo, Florida. Fitch has been working for the Alachua County Library District for five years. (Aaron Ritter/WUFT News)

The library will host an assortment of weekly programs in the library’s arts and crafts room, which is outfitted with a matte black floor, two sinks, three long tables, rolling chairs and cupboards filled with art supplies.

As part of a larger initiative to improve reading comprehension and adult literacy, the library will pair patrons with mentor’s free of charge, Cook said.

“There is a lot for children, but there is also a lot of programs for adults. It really is a blessing,” Waldo resident Lisa Hill said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the former Dollar General building was purchased and updated by the Alachua County Library District, not the city of Waldo as originally reported. 

About Aaron Ritter

Aaron Ritter is a general assignment reporter for WUFT. He can be reached at or (352)294-6397

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